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Volume 4, Number 7
February 16, 2007


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In the Spotlight

California's governor need not look far to identify the cause of the health care affordability crisis: He works every day at its center.

John R. Graham, Diana M. Ernst, Medical Progress Today, 2-16-07

As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger begins his second term, his chief priority is health reform. We had hoped that he would open the path to consumer choice in health care by breaking the insurance status quo—inflexible, expensive, and out of reach for too many Californians—and repudiating the ideology of even more government control of health care markets.
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News

Judge Rules Drug Documents Must Be Returned to Eli Lilly
The New York Times, 2-14-07

Editor's Notes:

After running a front page series of articles bashing Eli Lilly's drug Zyprexa—based on selective information provided by plaintiffs' attorneys—the New York Times notes (buried, in Section C, page 7) that a federal district judge has ordered the documents be returned to the company because their disclosure violated a confidentiality agreement.
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Genetic Tests Pose Tailored Care
Wall Street Journal, 2-14-06

Editor's Notes:

The field of personalized medicine is growing slowly, as industry and regulators try to sort through the avalanche of information provided by the deciphering of the human genome and new sciences like proteomics.
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Seniors Flocking To Lower–Cost Generic Drugs In Medicare Part D
Medical News Today, 2-9-06

Editor's Notes:

One of the complaints about the Medicare prescription drug benefits is that it is a "giveaway" to the "big pharmaceutical companies" who would make a killing pushing newer, more expensive drugs to seniors.
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Commentary

A Dog's Breakfast
Daniel L. McFadden, Wall Street Journal, 2-16-07

Daniel McFadden, a former Nobel Prize winner in economics, reports his research on the Medicare Part D drug benefit since its inception. McFadden argues that Part D represents an important controlled experiment in the workability of consumer–driven health care, and concludes that the plan is working much better than many had expected:
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Texas HPV mandate not quite compelling
Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune, 2-15-07

Chapman examines the case for Texas' mandatory HPV vaccination program, and finds that—while supporting the concept of mandatory vaccinations—he has serious reservations in this particular case.
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Lean New Pharma
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Forbes, 2-14-07

Gottlieb, a former Deputy Commissioner at the FDA who is now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, uses Pfizer's announcement of widespread restructuring to analyze the pharmaceutical industry's underlying business model and economics. He argues that the industry will have to embrace significant new changes if it is to survive in the current regulatory environment.
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Adding up the reason's for expensive health care
Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, 2-14-07

Pearlstein reports on a study from McKinsey and Co. examining why the U.S. spends more on health care than any country in the developed world:
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The Clinical Trial
Mark Thornton, Wall Street Journal, 2-12-07

Mark Thornton, a former FDA staffer, argues in favor of the Abigail Alliance's lawsuit seeking expanded access to experimental drugs for cancer patients with terminal illnesses who have run out of options:
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Biology Goes Open Source
Forbes, 2-12-07

In a sense, companies that are trying to develop personalized medicine face the same problem as the National Security Council does in trying to analyze electronic intercepts culled from satellites or email: the flood of "noise" (innocuous communications) overwhelms their ability to detect real signals (terrorist communications). In the sphere of medicine, companies are similarly overwhelmed with information and are having a very hard time finding the real correlations between genetic variation and the risk of developing a disease or having an adverse reaction from drug treatment (biomarkers).
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No Perfect Pill: Safe for all shouldn't be FDA standard
The San Diego Union-Tribune, 2-10-07

The Tribune argues that there is no such thing as a perfect drug and the FDA is right to focus on scientific strategies for better determining which patients are most at risk for adverse reactions from medicines that are otherwise highly safe and effective.
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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

California's governor need not look far to identify the cause of the health care affordability crisis: He works every day at its center.

NEWS

Judge Rules Drug Documents Must Be Returned to Eli Lilly
Genetic Tests Pose Tailored Care
Seniors Flocking To Lower–Cost Generic Drugs In Medicare Part D

COMMENTARY

A Dog's Breakfast
Texas HPV mandate not quite compelling
Lean New Pharma
Adding up the reason's for expensive health care
The Clinical Trial
Biology Goes Open Source
No Perfect Pill: Safe for all shouldn't be FDA standard
Center for Medical Progress 
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